Ed Hardy TATTOO THE WORLD is an artist’s journey, his unexpected rise to cult status and his phenomenal influence on pop culture. With one foot in the world of tattooing and the other planted in the fine arts, each informed the other.
After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute with plans for a career in the fine arts, Hardy veered off course into the seamy world of drunken sailors and fallen women to pursue his childhood obsession: tattooing.
His first mentor, tattooist Phil Sparrow, flipped open a book and said, “This is real art.” Black and white photographs of Japanese men (most were yakuza – Japanese gangsters), their bodies covered with visions of Japanese myths and heroes – snarling samurai warriors, rearing dragons, spitting gods of thunder and howling wind – captivated Hardy. With tattooing he could realize his childhood dream of making a living creating art.
At the age of 10, he knew the magic of art and art on living canvasses was not only magical, but mystical and powerful. For the next twenty years, he immersed himself in the world of tattoos. With his fine art training and drawing on his vast knowledge of art history, the art and cultures of Asia, Polynesia and Mexico, he refined and reinvigorated tattoo imagery.
In 2004, Hardy’s images were spotted by a clothing designer and the Ed Hardy brand was born. It’s immense success has allowed him to return to his personal art. Reflected in his paintings are his years of blending high and low art, cutting across cultures and styles, distillations from his collaborations with his clients and a hyperactive imagination.
Ed Hardy Tattoo the World was released on September 20, 2011 by Docurama Films